Frequent incidents of electric vehicles catching fire across the country are hurting the EV market which is in its very infancy. In a recent such accident 20 electric scooters of Jitendra EV went up in flames on April 9 in Maharashtra’s Nashik after being loaded onto a transport container. This was the fifth such incident in India since March.
The advent of the EV age was spurred by climate change fears added to economic realities such as high fuel prices. In a developing country like India, both issues assume great significance. Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest car manufacturer has a variety of models in their line-up in India. One thing that they currently miss is a proper electric vehicle. Maruti Suzuki is now planning to launch new electric vehicles in the market, in a bid to compete with other manufacturers. Currently, Tata Motors is the leading manufacturer in India when it comes electric cars. In a conversation with Economic Times Hisashi Takeuchi, new Managing Director, Maruti Suzuki said that the carmaker plans to roll out its first electric vehicle in 2025.
On the topic of EV’s, there are some pro’s and con’s that come as a package deal with EV’s. While motor companies will harp on the pluses, they will conceal the minuses for obvious reasons. Batteries used in electric vehicles are prone to catching fire if they have manufacturing defect or if the software that operates the battery is not designed properly. An electric scooter/vehicle has enough capacity (amount of energy stored) to run an average house with its power for three to four days without any problem. On the flip side, so much energy is enough to cause damage to the vehicle operator or people nearby if things go wrong.
With EV batteries, the primary cause of explosion of batteries is their separator. The main purpose of the separator is to clearly demarcate/separate the anode and cathode but continue the transfer of ions. However, due to market demand and advancement in technology, the separator has been made thinner and thinner. Despite separators lasting for very long, in such situations, even a single problem with the battery can lead to permanent damage. Since the separator is delicate in nature, it malfunctions due to any external pressure or internal chemical imbalance. While charging, batteries expand a little, and when discharged, they compress which further creates pressure on the separator, and it may fail to function properly. If the separator fails the moment the anode and cathode make contact, there is a short circuit which may further lead to an explosion.
It would be hasty to pass judgement on an entire business model because of a possible perceived accident. Risk factors are there with most products so the EV segment is no exception. However, the explosion of a vehicle or scooter has too much visual recall which can induce fear. That is one huge demerit for this segment.